Aztec, Kirtland discuss gun control measures
AZTEC — The backlash against gun control measures introduced this legislative session is continuing in San Juan County.
With only days left in the legislative session, municipal leaders in Aztec and Kirtland discussed proposed gun control measures being heard by the Legislature during Tuesday evening meetings.
Aztec residents crowded into Aztec City Hall to rally against House Bill 83. Meanwhile, the Kirtland Town Council passed a Second Amendment Preservation Town resolution.
Aztec pulls resolution supporting HB 83
About a hundred people attended the Aztec City Commission meeting as the commission considered a resolution supporting House Bill 83, which would allow people to petition a judge for a court order to remove guns from people deemed a threat to themselves or others.
Police Chief Mike Heal asked for the resolution to be pulled from the agenda, despite supporting the measure. He said it does not appear that the bill is going to be passed this legislative session.
Heal took the opportunity to explain his support for the legislation, which he said stems from the Aztec High School shooting on Dec. 7, 2017.
“I want to make sure that if somebody is in crisis, we can make sure they cannot do the killing that took place on this day,” Heal said.
Heal advocated for House Bill 83 and has spoken in favor of it in front of legislative committees.
“After that day, I knew that I couldn’t keep everyone safe,” he said. “I just want the tools to try to keep them safe and that has been my goal the whole time.”
The mother of a student who was killed during the Aztec High School shooting asked people at the Aztec City Commission meeting to stop making her daughter’s death a political issue.
“The only reason I am here tonight is because I’m tired of my daughter’s name — our tragedy that has impacted everybody in this county — being used as political propaganda,” Jamie Lattin said.
She said House Bill 83 would not have saved her daughter's life.
Logan Hale, an Aztec High School student, said he was at the school when the shooting occurred.
“It is my belief that gun laws wouldn’t have changed anything,” he said.
Aztec resident Brice Current, a captain in the San Juan County Sheriff's Office speaking as a private citizen, said the bill would place law enforcement in danger because they would have to take firearms from people who are suicidal. In addition, he said it could create an expensive, uphill court battle for people.
“With this bill, we are not fixing the person,” Current said. “We are only taking inanimate objects, putting a Band-Aid on the cut before the wound is even created.”
Current said other states have passed similar laws that provide more protections for the citizens.
“This bill seems like a good idea, but the outcome will be disastrous,” he said. “Basically, it’s equivalent to taking a sleeping pill and a laxative in the same night. The intentions are good, but you’re going to wake up with some serious problems.”
San Juan County Democratic Party Chairwoman MP Schildmeyer was the sole person who spoke in favor of the legislation. She said it could have saved the life of one of her clients when she was a lawyer. The woman was fatally shot at work two days after she had received a restraining order against her husband. Schildmeyer said the husband also shot and killed a fire captain who was sitting at a table where the woman worked.
Schildmeyer said if a red flag law had been in place, the man’s guns could have been taken away and “maybe that woman would have stayed alive and mothered her children.”
Kirtland council divided on Second Amendment Preservation Town resolution
Kirtland’s resolution means no town resources will be used to enforce gun control laws the town considers unconstitutional. The resolution passed on a 4-1 vote.
“We agree with people that they have the right to bear arms,” said Mayor Mark Duncan. “We also agree with people that they have the right to due process.”
Councilor Pete Emery cast the sole vote against the resolution, although he says he is pro-gun and supports Second Amendment rights.
“I don’t think municipal government has anything to do with hot-button political issues like this,” Emery said when reached by phone.
At the same time, Emery said he understood the sheriff's position, including the feeling that the legislation was not well thought out and wasn’t drafted with enough input from law enforcement.
He said the Second Amendment already protects the right to bear arms and the courts will determine if the laws passed this legislative session are constitutional. Emery said he does not see anything wrong with having reasonable gun laws.
Emery said he felt declaring the town a Second Amendment preservation town was “kind of like a slap in the face to all the hurting people across the nation who have lost a loved one to gun violence.”
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.